Collection Development Policy for History

General policies and principles for the Library's collections are stated in the General Collection Development Policy.

Purpose of the Collection

The UCSB Library history collection supports research and instructional activities within the Department of History.

Academic Department/Program Description

The Department of History offers two undergraduate degrees: the Bachelor of Arts in history, and the Bachelor of Arts in the history of public policy. The Department offers two M.A. / Ph.D. programs: a traditional doctoral program leading primarily, though not exclusively, to teaching careers in higher and secondary education, and a graduate program in public historical studies which trains historians for careers in the community at large, primarily as researchers and writers.

The Department offers doctoral study in twelve general fields of history: United States; Latin America; East Asia; Africa; the Middle East; history of science; ancient history; medieval Europe; early Modern Europe, 1450-1815; modern Europe, 1789-present; history of public policy; and public history. The Department also offers as a third field only (i.e. not as a first or second field of study): comparative gender, world history, and comparative history of race and ethnicity. Students pursuing a doctoral degree in History may petition to add an interdisciplinary Ph.D. emphasis in: ancient Mediterranean studies, black studies, environment and society, European medieval studies, feminist studies, global studies, and technology and society.

The Department seeks to balance geographical and chronological approaches to history with thematic considerations and interdisciplinary connections. Work today often cuts across conventional periods and places, looking at such themes as gender history, religion, political economy and consumer culture, borderlands, nationalism, public history and historical memory, Cold War and international history, and race and ethnicity. Combining geographic, chronological, and thematic fields gives the Department greater reach across disciplines through interdisciplinary Research Focus Groups and Multi-Campus Research Groups. History's interdisciplinarity can be seen in its large number of affiliate faculty, drawing affiliates from such departments and programs as Ancient Mediterranean Studies; Anthropology; Asian-American Studies; Black Studies; Chicano/a Studies; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies; Environmental Studies; Feminist Studies; French and Italian; Germanic, Slavic, and Semitic Studies; Global and International Studies; Latin American and Iberian Studies; Media Arts and Technology; Medieval Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Political Science; Religious Studies; Renaissance Studies; Sociology; and Spanish and Portuguese.

Subject Parameters

Priority is given to the above mentioned curricular offerings: the twelve general areas of doctoral study; available “third field” and interdisciplinary emphases; and the Department’s chronological, geographical, thematic and interdisciplinary approaches to history.



Given the interdisciplinary nature of historiography, of the Department of History, and of area, ethnic and gender studies curricula at UCSB, many aspects of the history collection are also covered by the collection policies for Anthropology; Asian-American Studies; Black Studies; Chicano/a Studies; Classics; East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies; Environmental Studies; Feminist Studies; French and Italian; Germanic, Slavic, and Semitic Studies; Global and International Studies; Latin American and Iberian Studies; Middle Eastern Studies; Political Science; Religious Studies; and Spanish and Portuguese.  UCSB librarian subjects specialists work collaboratively to meet the interdisciplinary and shared teaching and research needs of the campus community.

Geographical Coverage

Within the United States, broad coverage is sought.  Local histories are selectively acquired.  Special attention is given to the history of California, the history of Santa Barbara and adjacent counties. Campus history is collected by Special Collections and is housed in the University Archives Collection. 

Internationally, broad coverage is sought for the history of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. The history of some nations (such as Canada) and some regions (such as Australia and Oceania) are covered very selectively.


Non-English language materials are collected heavily by area studies librarians. Specific materials in other languages may be purchased at the request of faculty.

Chronological Limits/Period Coverage

All periods of history are collected, with special attention given to curricular and research interests.

Publication Dates

Recent imprints are the prioritized.  Older imprints are selectively acquired.  Rare and archival materials are collected by the Department of Special Collections.

Types of Materials Collected

University press research monographs are widely acquired.  Scholarly research from trade, small and alternative presses are selectively acquired.  Scholarly reference sources, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and indexes are collected.  Other priorities are serials, DVDs, and digital archives. Under the stewardship of government publication librarians, the Library collects publications from governmental agencies of the United States, California, Santa Barbara city and county, foreign countries, international organizations, and the Western United States.


Print is favored when acquiring material that one may expect to be read cover-to-cover, or where an argument is carried throughout the text. Electronic is the preferred format for edited volumes, anthologies, reference books and serials.

Systemwide and Other Resources

The UCSB Library's history collection benefits greatly from the Systemwide licensing of serials, indexing and abstracting databases, and digital archives by the California Digital Library and UC Libraries.

Related Collection Development Policies

Authors: Sherri Barnes and Richard Caldwell
Policy Last Updated: June 2015